July 24, 2009 Subject:
Dombey and Son
I read Dombey and Son in an "Edition de Luxe" three volume triple-decker printed in 1890, weighing in at 1300 pages, not including illustrations. Unlike most Dicken's editions, the font, spacing, margins and paper are normal size, making it easier to read, and revealing its true length. It can be found online (V.1, V.2, V.3) and part of a complete set called Dicken's Works (1890; 45 volumes). It is my new favorite Dickens online reading copy, the beautiful letterpress and thick handmade paper in limited edition would cost thousands of dollars to replicate today.
As for Dombey and Son, I was charmed as always by Dicken's characters, manners and scenery. The main characters of Paul Dombey (Jr and Sr), Florence and Walter are so real, so human, so powerful, that the secondary characters reveal themselves as fairy tale cartoon characters. The contrast between the main characters and supporting cast is too stark, like the ill-fated 1980's fad of mixing cartoon characters with live action film. Mr Cuttle, the old women, Mrs McStinger etc.. they are true Dickens, not the too-terribly-real Dombey's. But this is a minor point. In all a great novel, difficult to judge since some parts shine forth and others drag onward, but certainly wonderful reading overall for any Dickens fan.